Kotlet Schabowy: Polish Pork Cutlet

Kotlet Schabowy

Kotlet Schabowy (pron. ‘caught-let s-hab-ovy’) is a Polish-style Breaded Cutlet, made of pork loin (called ‘schab’ in Polish). 

The recipe involves pounding a piece of meat into tender submission, and then submerging it in milky, oniony brine – ideally overnight. The next day, the meat gets lightly coated in a flour, egg and breadcrumb mixture, and then quickly pan-fried. 

The breading gives these cutlets the crispiest golden exterior; while hiding a soft, satisfyingly meaty interior. Served with young potatoes and a refreshing cucumber salad, it makes a wonderful dinner combo.

For the full list of ingredients & detailed instructions, please see the recipe card at the end of this post. But before you scroll, there’s important stuff to know below.

It may be hard to believe, but one of the most popular dishes of Polish cuisine has a relatively short history. 

Schabowy made its first appearance on the Polish tables only sometime in the 19th century. Most likely, it was a budget-friendly answer to the original (veal-based) Viennese schnitzel.

However, Schabowy’s popularity only peaked some decades later. After World War II, as a part of the Communist’s economic plan, pork became one of the pillars of local agriculture.

At that difficult time, Schabowy became the symbol of ultimate luxury.

Today, even though pork loin is readily available in any store, this Polish-style Pork Cutlet has kept its cult status. When cooked with love and care (like we’re cooking over here), it makes a wonderful, classic Sunday meal.

Sources:
“Kanon Kuchni Polskiej”(“the Canon of Polish Cuisine”), published by the National Institute of Rural Culture and Heritage. Digital version (in Polish) available here.
“Kotlet Schabowy” article by Magdalena Kasprzyk-Chevriaux on culture.pl (in Polish)

Do you need any special ingredients or equipment to make this Pork Cutlet?

No, everything should be easily available in any major store.

You’ll need 2 pounds of boneless pork loin (or loin chops). As much as I encourage frugal shopping – in this case, it’s really worth spending a bit more for a higher quality meat.

🇵🇱 In Poland, ask the butcher for a loin of Puławska, Złotnicka or Mangalica (Mangalitsa) breeds.

🌍 Internationally, if you can find pasture-raised pork, you’re golden!

What should you serve with Schabowy?

Schabowy is traditionally served with potatoes – either boiled, roasted or mashed; often garnished with freshly chopped dill or parsley. You could also serve it with potato fries or wedges. 

Other popular veggie sides include: Mizeria (Cucumber salad), Dill Pickles, warm grated beetroots, oven roasted veggies, carrots and peas, braised and fried sauerkraut or braised sweet cabbage (red or green).

Leftover Schabowy can be used in sandwiches, between two layers of bread, with a dollop of mustard and a few lettuce leaves.

Sauces: In Poland, we don’t usually offer any sauces with Schabowy – the crispy layer of crust tends to turn soggy when it’s accompanied by a wet sauce. But if you would like to add some anyway, I would suggest hollandaise, creamy mushroom sauce or a spoonful of a homemade mayo.

You could also simply deglaze the pan after frying, with a heaped spoon of sour cream and a splash of stock. Add some salt and chopped dill, and a quick sauce is made.

I hear reports (from across the pond) that the ranch sauce is a popular choice as well. 

Drinks: In terms of beverages, these Pork Cutlets pair well with Kompot (homemade fruit drink), Polish beer or fruit juices. If you would like to serve it with wine, Polish sommeliers recommend dry whites.

Can you make these Polish-style Pork Cutlets another way?

Yes. The milk-brining process could be skipped, but it really makes a difference – so I do encourage you to try it.

You could also omit the flour, and go directly with beaten egg and breadcrumbs. Classic breadcrumbs can be replaced with panko, crushed cornflakes or ground nuts.

And while frying in lard can sound weird, it really adds more flavour. Clarified butter is a good choice too. Alternatively, you could use any other neutral cooking oil, such as canola. 

As for air-frying: I haven’t tried it yet, but don’t see why it wouldn’t work. Perhaps only the cutlet’s size would be limiting, but you could make them smaller.

What diets is this Schabowy suitable for?

This recipe is suitable for a traditional diet. If you would like to make it gluten-free, try using gluten-free breadcrumbs.

How long can you keep this Pork Cutlet in the fridge?

Once you’ve served these Pork Cutlets, don’t leave them out for more than 3-4 hours.

To refrigerate, allow any leftovers to cool completely. Then wrap them in cling film or move them into a container with a lid.  Store in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.

Can I freeze this Schabowy?

Yes you can, some homecooks even say they can’t even taste the difference. 

Sadly, in my experience, that’s not exactly the case. The breadcrumbs tend to absorb moisture during their time in the freezer. In turn, that makes them less crispy, and more likely to fall off the meat later on.

But please don’t let me discourage you, do test for yourself:

To freeze after cooking, make sure the cutlets are completely cooled down. Then simply wrap each one in cling film and place them all together in a freezer-safe container or a zip-bag. 

Another method is more eco-friendly: lay the cutlets in a single layer on a baking sheet, making sure they don’t touch each other. Freeze for one hour and then transfer them into a freezer-friendly bag.

To freeze the raw, breaded cutlets, you can proceed the same way: gently wrap each one individually, and pack together into a box or a bag that’s suitable for freezing.

Make sure to label them with a description and the date. Aim to consume within 3 months.

How do I reheat these Pork Cutlets?

From chilled: Bake in a single layer for 20 minutes at 175˚C (350˚F, without fan-assist), covered with a sheet of aluminum foil. Before serving, check if they’re warm throughout. For a crispier result, remove the foil a few minutes before ending.

Alternatively, you can reheat them on a non-stick pan (without any added fat) on a low heat. It shouldn’t take longer than 10-12 minutes to become warmed throughout.

From frozen: Don’t leave cutlets to thaw, the breading is likely to fall off.

Reheat them directly in the oven, as per instructions above, extending the baking time by 10 minutes. 

Smacznego!

Kotlet Schabowy - Polish Pork Cutlet / Breaded Pork Chop
Kotlet Schabowy - Polish Pork Cutlet / Breaded Pork Chop

Kotlet Schabowy: Breaded Pork Loin Cutlet / Pork Chop

Yield: 4-8
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes

This recipe makes four enormous pork cutlets - roughly the size of a large dinner plate.

If your appetite isn’t as great, simply divide the meat into 8 portions instead - that way you’ll end up with 8 smaller 'Schabowy' cutlets.

The recipe involves brining the meat in milk with onions - ideally overnight, but 3-4 hours should be enough as well.

Ingredients

  • 2 lb (900 g) boneless pork loin (pork chops / steaks)
  • 2 cups (475-500 ml) milk
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 onion, yellow or red
  • 3 dried bay leaves, optional
  • 3 all-spice berries, optional
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 0.5 tbsp black pepper, ground
  • 1+¼ cup (160 g) flour, all-purpose
  • 1 cup (110 g) plain breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • Pork lard or clarified butter, for frying
  • Lemon wedges, for serving, optional

Instructions

Marinating the meat

  1. Divide the meat into four (or eight) cutlets of equal thickness.
  2. Trim the exterior of any fat and sinew. If you leave it, it will cause the meat to shrink and curl during frying.
  3. Place the meat on a cutting board, one cutlet at the time. Cover it with a layer of cling film (plastic wrap) and pound it with the flat side of a meat tenderizer. 

    The thickness will depend on individual preferences. Personally, I like them when they are roughly ¼ inch (5-6 mm) thick. Repeat with all the remaining cutlets.
  4. Pour the milk into a bowl, large enough to hold all the meat. 
  5. Add in two garlic cloves (peeled and lightly crushed with a knife), thinly sliced onion, salt and pepper. If you have dried bay leaves and all-spice berries in your pantry, add them as well. Stir everything together with a fork.
  6. Place the cutlets into the milky bowl. If they’re not covered well enough, you can top up the milk.
  7. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap (cling film) and refrigerate for 3-4 hours, and ideally overnight.


Breading & Frying

  1. Before continuing, pat the meat dry (using a paper towel), to remove any excessive moisture.
  2. Set up a breading station - for this process I use soup plates, but wide and shallow bowls are great too. Flour goes into one bowl, raw egg (whisked) into another, and the breadcrumbs into the last one.
  3. We’ll be working in batches: bread, fry, repeat. My cutlets are enormous, therefore I have to fry them one by one.
  4. Heat up the lard in a large frying pan (skillet) on medium-high heat.
  5. Firstly, dredge both sides of each cutlet in flour, then dip in the beaten egg mixture, allowing the excess egg to drip. Finally, dip it into the breadcrumbs, turning over to cover all sides. I’m using a fork for the whole process (it’s easier and cleaner).
  6. Sauté each cutlet for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. If it’s browning too quickly, reduce the heat. If the frying pan becomes too dry, add more lard. Repeat the process until you’re out of cutlets.
  7. To keep fried cutlets warm until you’re done with them all, you can cover them with aluminum foil, or keep them in a warm oven.
  8. Before serving, pat each cutlet with a paper towel to remove any excessive fat.
  9. Serve while hot, with a lemon wedge on the side (optional)
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 271Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 110mgSodium: 3591mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 3gSugar: 4gProtein: 20g
Kasia Kronenberger

Kasia Kronenberger changes the (often unfavourable) perceptions of Polish food through digital storytelling. She creates purpose-led, bite-sized videos, exploring her cultural identity through food. As a self-taught home cook, Kasia enjoys trying out recipes from old Polish cookbooks. She’s keen of all things smoked or fermented.


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